It was Janmashtami and I wanted to make it as special as possible. After returning from work, I had about 3 hours to prepare the goodies. Time was not my only constraint...equipment as well. When I moved to the US, I hadn't brought any type of chakli press or mould with me, nor did I find what I wanted in any nearby store. (This is one of the lengthy list of items to be brought when I return from my long-pending trip to India. My parents' 60th B'day celebrations are approaching and I really hope to make it). So my choice of Janmashtami offerings was pretty limited. However, I did manage to make pal payasam, thattai, seedai and rings apart from a humble dinner of mango lassi (who can eat anything more after all these goodies?!)

The common dough:

rice flour - 2 cups
black gram flour - 2 tbsp
coconut (powdered / ground) - 2/3 cups
cumin seeds - 1 tsp
sesame seeds - 1 tsp
butter - 2 tsp
chilli powder - 2 to 3 tsp
salt - about 1 1/4 tsp
water - about 1 cup

The flour is lightly roasted in butter and the ingredients are mixed. A stiff dough is made and divided into 3 parts.


One part is rolled out into small round/oblong shapes and deep fried.


A few twigs of curry leaves are coarsely crushed in a mixer and added to one part of the dough, which is then flattened out into circular disks and deep fried in hot oil.

Crunchy rings:

1/4 cup of dahlia (pottu kadalai powder) is added to the last part of the dough, along with a pinch of salt and chilly powder. The dough is rolled into hollow circles and deep fried to a golden brown.

Pal Payasam:

milk - 8 cups (1 liter)
rice - 1/4 cup
ghee - 1 tbsp
sugar - 1 cup
almonds / cashews / raisins - a few

The nuts and raisins are fried in a little ghee and kept aside. The rice is fried till golden brown in the remaining ghee, cooled and powdered coarsely in a mixer. Milk is taken in a pressure cooker and the powdered rice is added. It is pressure cooked on medium heat until 4 - 5 whistles then on slow heat for about half an hour until the aroma of condensed milk emanates (Has condensed milk been added? NO!). The heat is turned off and the pressure is allowed to subside. Once the pressure cooker could be opened, sugar is added to it and boiled for a few more minutes until sugar dissolves completely.

Mango Lassi:

mango - 2 small or 1 big
yogurt - 8 tbsp
sugar - 3 tbsp
mango nectar - 1 cup

All ingredients are blended and served cold.
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